OACTS President Malainy testifies to Senate Education Committee

OACTS President and C-TEC of Licking County Superintendent Dr. Joyce Malainy testified on May 29, 2019, to the Ohio Senate Education Committee regarding HB166. Below is a transcript of her testimony:

Chair Dolan, Vice Chair Burke, Ranking Member Sykes, and members of the Ohio Senate Education Committee, thank you for allowing me to present HB 166 interested party testimony today. I am Joyce Malainy, the Superintendent of the Career and Technology Education Centers of Licking County (known locally as C-TEC) located in Newark, Ohio. It is my honor to present this testimony on behalf of C-TEC, the Ohio Association of Career Technical Superintendents (OACTS) and CTE students and staff statewide.

As educators, we have been waiting for a “fix” to educational funding in Ohio, and have been involved with and supportive of the Cupp/Patterson plan. As an example of that plan’s positive impact on career-tech, attached are its funding projections for Joint Vocational School Districts, released by the Cupp/Patterson workgroup last month. OACTS is pleased to see the significant projected funding increases across the board, which reflect a robust investment in Ohio’s career-technical schools and a general emphasis on secondary and post-secondary technical training. But given the uncertainty surrounding the General Assembly’s possible adoption of that proposal, I seek to engage with and express concerns for what is currently on the table—House Bill 166 As Passed by The House.

To be clear, HB 166 contains numerous positive investments in the state’s education system, which we very much appreciate. These positives include robust support/funding for high school and adult industry credentials, mental health/support services, and student transportation. But as the committee is likely aware, with respect to the core school funding formula, HB 166 essentially “freezes” funding for all school districts at FY 19 levels—and currently this freeze includes CTE “weighted” funding.

By way of background, in 2015, to expand the state’s career-tech programming, the Career Technical Education Associations in Ohio worked closely with the General Assembly to adjust the school funding formula and place CTE weighted funds outside the traditional “cap and guarantee.” (The “weighted” or “tiered” supplemental funding pays for the cost of our supplies and equipment, which in general are far more expensive than those needed for a traditional academic classroom). The legislature made this change to facilitate our schools’ ability to recruit new students and create new programs. As a result, we currently receive additional weighted funding if we add more students, but lose funding if enrollment declines—regardless of whether a school is on a cap or guarantee.

HB 166 would freeze our weighted funding at FY 2019 levels. As a result, we would receive no supplemental funding for additional career-tech students, which creates significant challenges for many Career-Technical Planning Districts to serve more students and/or create new programs to meet workforce demands. As you are aware, Career Technical Education is becoming increasingly important to Ohio’s economy. We continue to train students with the skills and credentials needed in today’s workforce. A critical component to educating our students for “high skill and in-demand” careers is providing current technology and equipment with which our instructors train our students. It is the “weighted” funding that directly supports equipment and technology for CTE. Ohio law outlines five different tiers of per-pupil weighted funding, which have been strategically established based on job and workforce data; the most “in-demand” programs receive the highest level of funding.

At C-TEC, we have very deliberately planned for slow, but steady, addition of programs. For example, next year, because of growth of demand in the health care industry, we are adding two new programs in the health occupations-related field, one of which will be housed at an associate school district’s high school. The equipment and supply costs for these two programs will be between $60,000-80,000.00—and under the current formula, weighted funding would offset a significant portion of that. However, if HB 166 is passed as written, C-TEC will not have access to the funding to support that program growth. (Attached to this testimony is a letter on behalf of all CTE associations that provides additional examples of growth in other career technical schools across Ohio).

The existing structure for weighted funding is crucial for career-technical schools to respond to the evolving workforce needs of their regions—including establishing satellite programs to increase accessibility of CTE, and creating customized training programs to respond to unique needs of industry. Over the upcoming biennium, career-technical schools across Ohio are projected to create 382 new career field pathways, including 34 new career-based intervention programs, 19 new family and consumer science programs, and 249 new senior-only industry credentialing programs. If our weighted funding is frozen at FY 2019 levels, many of these new programs could be at risk.

In conclusion, if the Senate chooses not to adopt Cupp/Patterson, at a minimum we urge an adjustment to the proposed school funding formula that would place CTE weighted funds outside the FY 2019 funding freeze, consistent with current law. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I would be happy to answer any questions.

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